You Can't Judge a Person by Their Handbag

by Jill Peters

I think we all have something that we pay particular attention to when we are around other people.  I used to notice people’s hair back when I was trying to figure out what my hairstyle would be.  But for quite some time, I now look at the purse or bag someone is carrying.  I judge the proverbial book not by the cover but by the handbag.  And recently I have noticed something else.

I was at my daughter’s track meet yesterday.  It was a beautiful, albeit rare, sunny Washington day.  Everyone seems happier on days like these.  Nobody seemed to mind waiting for heat after heat of races to finish.  And as always is the case, I spent some time people watching and eventually found the mom of one of my daughter’s friends.  This is a new friendship as of this school year and the first time I met this mom, I loved her style.  Not only her clothing and accessories, but her personality and how she is so “chill”, as my kids would say.  She invited me to sit down on the blankets she had spread out in the grass on the side of the track.  So, I did.  I enjoyed her company, and her cooler full of food and thought to myself that I need to try to be more laid-back.  Not only does she have a full-time job, but she also has 4 kids that are all involved in various activities, and yet I’ve never seen her be anything but “chill”.  That alone is impressive to me.  And while we watched the track meet, I admired her.  And then I noticed her bag, and I thought “Uh huh.  Cool mom, cool bag”.

A few weeks ago, we were at the Grand Canyon…another great people-watching spot.  There were A LOT of people there.  And as we admired the canyon and took a bunch of selfies, a mom walked by who obviously had had enough.  She was half-dragging her crying child along and talking through clenched teeth about “behaving” and “knocking it off”.  You could say that she was the opposite of “chill”.  And then I noticed her purse.  In the words of Jimmy Fallon, “EW!”

What’s my point?  Well, I’m not saying that people with no sense of style are bad parents.  But rather that sometimes, how we treat others can be as visible as the purse you carry, or the shoes you wear.  While it’s great to be noticed because of a beautiful leather bag, I think we are more often noticed for how we treat other people, how we handle situations and how we make the people around us feel. 

A great person can handle a lot of stuff while still looking good and while making others feel good.  A great purse can also handle a lot or have a lot of handles.  It can look good but still be functional.  And it can make you feel good just to carry it, or make other feel good when they see it.